Reasons for the Socratic Method

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Pizon
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Reasons for the Socratic Method

Postby Pizon » Wed May 18, 2011 6:21 pm

When people ask, I usually tell them the short answer is to train students to "think like a lawyer." All of the following potentially apply to that general purpose:

1 - It forces students to think on their feet.
2 - It makes students nervous and theoretically more likely to pay attention/be prepared.
3 - It compels students to question their instincts and consider a wide range of possibilities.
4 - It breaks students down and makes them more cynical and paranoid (or perhaps just tougher).
5 - It gets students used to articulating their positions in front of an audience.
6 - It's a hazing/initiation process that enforces law school's reputation for being brutal, in an attempt to maintain the prestige of the profession (also people did it to them, so now it's their turn to dish it out).
7 - It's tradition.

Despite the fact that there seem to be legitimate reasons for the Socratic Method, I find myself avoiding professors who use it in upper level classes. That's partly because many professors don't do it effectively, and mostly because I'm no longer a 1L and don't want to get called on anymore. I enjoy laid back classes. Some students will complain about professors who go hard on students, but actually prefer them because they feel like they're "not learning" otherwise (I think because of reason #2 above). During 1L, I had a professor who used the Socratic Method -- albeit lightly -- but when I took his class in 2L he only called on volunteers. When I asked him why he did this, he said that by the end of your first year you should know if you want to talk or not, and that calling on students and getting unresponsive answers just wastes time. Most of my professors after 1L have not cold called.

Did I miss any reasons above? Do you avoid professors who use the Socratic Method? Do you find that you learn more from professors who put you under pressure? Should it be done all 3 years, or is it even necessary at all?

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TTH
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Re: Reasons for the Socratic Method

Postby TTH » Wed May 18, 2011 8:32 pm

The Socratic Method allows one professor to "teach" 70-100 students without much in the way of technology, preparation, or oversight.

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Lawquacious
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Re: Reasons for the Socratic Method

Postby Lawquacious » Wed May 18, 2011 8:43 pm

The Apology by Plato is a good demonstration of why the 'Socratic Method' in its true (original form) kicks ass.

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uzpakalis
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Re: Reasons for the Socratic Method

Postby uzpakalis » Wed May 18, 2011 8:52 pm

Because it's what Learned Hand would do...

Renzo
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Re: Reasons for the Socratic Method

Postby Renzo » Sun May 22, 2011 8:10 pm

TTH wrote:The Socratic Method allows one professor to "teach" 70-100 students without much in the way of technology, preparation, or oversight.


This, and "because that's the way I learned."




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